Thursday, 8 May 2008

Dean's knees

My friend Dean has bad knees. Bad knees in that they don't work. One in particular. It hurts when he runs. It also hurts when he cycles, but especially when he runs. This is not good for Dean because he is an endurance athlete. He's been unable to run at all or cycle far for many months. He's defaulted on at least two NYC marathons because of injuries picked up on long runs in the spring. A recent injection of steroids felt nice, but had no long term benefit. So last Monday he had surgery. Some other stuff was injected into his knees in the hope of simulating nice soft cartilage. But anything would be better than facing the prospect of not being able to compete again ...

How would you react to the prospect of surgery? Dean emailed me last week to ask if he should sign up for the New York Marathon. Prudence held the day, but he's looking forward to adventure racing in 2009.

However, it's going to be a long haul. He's in bed on a machine that rehabilitates his knee by slowly moving the joint (I bet adventure racers don't get that on the NHS). He tells me that it moves 150 degrees per minute, and bends his knee to 85 degrees (which takes approximately 65 seconds - on his facebook page Dean lists "practical maths" as one of his interests). He is required to do at least 500 repetitions per day. Sound like fun? You should visit his facebook page and request to be his friend, because I would imagine he's going spare. He's going to be measuring and counting every one. He's even started collecting and speaking to soft toys.

I have no doubt that every reader of this page has contemplated the prospect of injury over the past six months (and if not, shame on you); Dean has been out of action for a year, and has been forced to concentrate on his job. So say a prayer for Dean and wish his knee a speedy recovery.


Thursday, 1 May 2008

My new running buddy

Mercury no longer eats running watches, and has started to run with me. His first birthday was last Saturday, and I decided he was old enough to go out for more than 20-25 minutes. Of course when we walk he runs around like a madman, and if I throw a ball he'll do 25x100 metre repeats at 30 mph with 10 second recoveries (see the pictures, featuring a demonstration by my assistant), so I figured a run with me would be a cakewalk.

We've been out a few times now, a mile and a half on lead, four off lead, then a mile and a half back on lead, out to and over Baits Bite Lock. He rushes ahead and lags behind, of course, but he's less inclined to eat cow shit when running with me. He's good company, and it's fun to watch him sprint effortlessly past when he's catching up.

This morning as we were heading back along the tow path he didn't catch up. I called for him. He didn't come. A sculler went by. "I think he's in the river". Sure enough, I looked to the water, and there he was, a hundred metres behind, his pointy head poking out, splashing furious. Despite being a bird dog he's not very confident in water. He must have fallen in, or perhaps jumped in after a duck. Or decided that, having conquered running, he was going to train for a duathlon. I sprinted back. The bank was quite high, and he was panting, doing the doggy paddle, drifting along the riverbank.

There was nothing for it but to lie in the bed of nettles -- I was wearing shorts -- and lean into the river to haul him out. He was cold and wet. I was stinging and cold and wet. It started to rain. We ran back. He learned his lesson. He's sitting in the kitchen smelling like a sewer. And I have big nettle weals on my bare legs. He's a good running buddy, but he needs to work on his training schedule.